Publishing rallies behind cancer sufferer’s picture book

Publishing rallies behind cancer sufferer’s picture book

A woman with terminal cancer is working on publishing a picture book about the death of a parent with the help of authors, publishers and agents.

Lisa Wells, who lives in Somerset, was diagnosed with terminal bowel and liver cancer in 2017 after the birth of her second child. Her doctors suggest she has between two and 12 months to live.

She wanted to publish a picture book about what happens when a parent dies so one of her friends got in touch with Michelle Robinson, who is a picture book author of titles such as There is a Lion in my Cornflakes (Bloomsbury Children’s) and is patron of reading at her local school.

Robinson said she “immediately” wanted to help. “Lisa lives only a couple of streets away from me so I went to meet her. She thinks most books pussyfoot around death, saying 'Mummy is a star', that kind of thing, and she couldn’t find a book that talks about death in real terms. I essentially ghostwrote a text, thinking at the time, what would I want my children to know if I was in the same situation? I read it to her, she loved it and we both cried. Now the aim is to produce a book she can hold and read to her kids in her lifetime.”

Robinson’s agent, James Catchpole, started contacting publishers and spoke to Graffeg, a Welsh independent, who said they can produce the book, which will be titled There’s Only One of Me, in two to three weeks.

Graffeg m.d. Peter Gill said he wanted to publish There’s Only One of Me, because he was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer in 2004. “The outlook wasn’t good - it was quite a shock to me and my family at the time. I haven’t forgotten how I felt about the possibility of leaving them, within a very short period of time.

“As it turned out I was one of the lucky ones who survived, thanks to a brilliant medical team whose diagnosis and treatment at an early stage saved my life. If by publishing There’s Only One of Me we can help children and others to remember loved ones who have left too soon, it all seems incredibly worthwhile.”

Robinsona and Catchpole have also found a UK-based book binder, CPI Antony Rowe of Melksham, to print the book, and is working with We Hear You, a cancer charity, to perfect the text from a clinical point of view.

They are currently looking for a professional illustrator, who they hope to announce next week, and are crowdfunding to cover costs such as paying the illustrator and distributing the book to families of cancer sufferers.

“Lisa’s youngest child is a baby so doesn’t understand but her older daughter still doesn’t know what’s happening at the moment,” said Robinson. “It’s an appalling situation but it would be wonderful if we could produce something for Lisa to read with her children in time.”

For more information about Lisa’s story and the chance to donate visit the crowdfunding page on JustGiving.com